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Illinois Bans Tailgates, Limits Capacity, Requires Masks

Paul Steinbach

In a public video briefing Thursday, University of Illinois officials explained planned measures to increase safety on Illini football game days, including a ban on tailgating, a reduction in Memorial Stadium seating capacity to 20 percent and a mandate that all fans wear face masks in public areas and maintain six feet of social distancing in stadium concourses.

As reported by the Chicago Tribune, athletic director Josh Whitman, chancellor Robert Jones and associate athletic director for sports medicine Randy Ballard led the briefing, which was in response to concerns surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

A news release also noted that mobile ticketing will be used exclusively and that concessions will be served as “grab and go” options in socially distanced lines with plexiglass barriers between servers and customers. There will be increased cleanings during games that could lead to restrooms being closed for certain periods, the Tribune reported.

Illinois has one of the lowest attendance rates in the Big Ten Conference, but a drop in ticket sales is expected following state requirements for attendance reduction. Seats will be sold in groups that are socially distanced.

Students can join the Illini Pride to enter a 1,000-seat lottery for student sections. Whitman said he’s hopeful the marching band can provide entertainment at games, but no decision has been made.

Grange Grove, an area where fans congregate in front of the stadium before games, might have socially distanced entertainment as well.

“We’re excited,” Whitman said of the plans. “We think this is a positive step toward a return to sports this fall.”

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